The Emperor Has No Clothes: The NIF and Brian Lurie Are Anti-Israel

It's there, for all to see, in the UN's current report on Israel in Gaza.

Tags: NIF
Ronn Torossian

OpEds Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

Now that the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict has completed its report and announced its findings, the public relations battle will get even more heated.  The world’s pressure will become stronger as a result of the accusations of Israel committing war crimes.

In addition to the Palestinian Arab groups working to see Israel brought before the International Court of Justice, the report was facilitated with information supplied by Israeli non-governmental agencies. Those groups include B'Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories; Gisha –legal Center for Freedom of Movement; The Association for Civil Rights in Israel; Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI); HaMoked: Center or the Defense of the Individual; Yesh Din Volunteers for Human Rights; Adalah, and Breaking the Silence – each of whom are well-funded by the New Israel Fund (NIF), an NGO that claims it has Israel’s best interest in mind.

The New Israel Fund is conspicuously behind many efforts to harm Israel worldwide – and while they incessantly maintain innocence, that is far from the situation..

The New Israel Fund uses words as subterfuge – and it fools some people.

In a recent letter to the editor to the New York Post (published in response to my op-ed), NIF’s Vice President  wrote, “…our alleged support for the global Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement and bringing Israeli soldiers to trial in foreign courts should preclude NIF from marching in New York’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade. However, our opposition to both positions is clear and unequivocal.” 

The boycott issue has been debated before and NIF’s position is clearly stated on their website.  The NIF claims that it does not support boycotts of Israel; yet in an article written in 2014, ironically titled, “Op-Ed: Boycotting settlements is not anti-Israel,” they made clear that certain boycott efforts were perfectly fine with them.  The boycott word is part of a game.

In many ways, this apple is rotten from its core – The President of NIF, Brian Lurie, has often made wrongful statements.  As NGO Monitor pointed out, an op-ed in Ha’aretz (“Under fire, Israel must still stand up for human rights”), Lurie published neglected certain key points. Lurie spins and spins, yet denies basic facts of NIF repeatedly.

NIF’s claims that they are against bringing Israeli soldiers to trial in foreign courts is ridiculous, given their funding for the eight groups that provided key information to the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry.

Let’s not forget the recent report compiled by Breaking the Silence – an NIF grantee who they hosted in America recently - which alleges intentional murder of Palestinian Arabs by Israeli soldiers.  It is among the materials that Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said she will refer to during her investigation into Israel. The NIF is not simply a group that “backs Israelis working for human rights, social justice, and religious freedom” as they falsely claim.

NIF’s grantees have helped to create an atmosphere harmful for Israel, and further encourage BDS actions.

There are additional examples of NIF grantees directly effecting boycott activity of Israel:

In February 2015 over 100 British performing artists announced they were boycotting Israel. They based their decision on claims made by NIF grantee B’Tselem.

In 2010, Gideon Spiro, Comptroller Committee member of NIF grantee Physicians for Human Rights wrote that he supported a boycott and that through BDS, he, "hope[s] the Golan Heights is returned to Syria without a war”.

In March 2015, a group consisting of NIF senior grantee organization officials signed a petition calling on European countriesto restrict academic cooperation and to “take legal measures against European companies operating in violation of international law in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.” (Note that they mentioned Israel and the occupied territory separately)

These facts belie the NIF’s protests and expose their word games for what they are. 

Advocates for a strong Israel must ask why American Jews who claim to love Israel, such as Yaffa & Paul Maritz of Seattle, Wa; Peter Shapiro and Bryna Linett of South Orange, NJ; Franklin Fisher of Manhattan, NY; or Barbara and Eric Dobkin of New Canaan, CT; are among those who send $30 Million annually to support the New Israel Fund’s agenda to undermine Israel. Perhaps these donors should ask themselves the same question.